Soundcore Life A3i vs P3i Wireless Earbuds Comparison – Which One Is Better?

Written by Pete Anthony

Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i charging case and wireless earbuds

Soundcore is the newer audio subsidiary of Anker Electronics, who has been a popular producer of various headphones and portable speakers for several years now. The Life series features a number of TWS earbuds, including the A3i and P3i, with various designs and features and has become very popular over the last two or so years.

The A3i and P3i, save for their obvious stemmed and non stemmed housing design difference, look like very similar products with similar features, and they currently sell for about the same price. How do these two pairs of wireless earbuds from the same company actually compare though? Is one decidedly better than the other? I have fully reviewed both of them and will answer those questions here.

Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i Side by Side at a Glance

Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud front

Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud front
Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud back

Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud back
Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud tip and nozzle

Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud tip and nozzle
Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i charging and carrying case top

Life A3i vs Life P3i charging case top
Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i case side

Life A3i vs Life P3i charging case side
Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i case inside

Life A3i vs Life P3i charging case inside

The A3i case is a somewhat more compact and portable, and also feels slightly less flimsy. Both cases are fine though for the price-point.

Soundcore Life A3i vs P3i Specs and Features Comparison

Spec Life A3i Life P3i
price-tier: value (around $50) value (around $50)
housing style: non stemmed, uncontoured stemmed, ovoid
design style: 10mm single dynamic driver 10mm single dynamic driver
earbuds battery life: 9h 9h
total + case battery life: 36h 36h
weatherproofing: IPX5 (moisture/splash resistant) IPX5 (moisture/splash resistant)
onboard controls: buttons buttons
warranty: 18 months 18 months
active noise cancellation: yes yes
transparency mode: yes yes
Bluetooth version: 5.2 5.2
EQ App compatibility: yes yes

Does the Soundcore Life A3i or Life P3i Have Better Fit and Comfort?

Soundcore Life A3i vs Life P3i earbud in ear fit

Life A3i vs Life P3i in ear fit

I was able to achieve a secure and decently comfortable fit with both of these earbuds, and neither had any seal breaking issues no matter how I moved my head, face, or jaw around.

The popular stemmed ovoid design, which the P3i has, often results in a fit that feels somewhat light and shallow, but the P3i sits very nicely and firmly in the outer ear canal.

The A3i fit is an interesting concept: The unusually large backs extend upward and wedge into what’s called the antihelix of the ear, and they kind of function like a faux wing tip. It’s a unique design idea that I actually think is really good, but the only problem here is that the backs have a sharp 90 degree angled edge on the upper side, which was mildly but still noticeably uncomfortable, and eventually created a hot spot. This issue could have easily been avoided if Soundcore had just extended the outer back piece all the way to the edge or had even just glued on a separate little rubber piece on the exposed edge.

If it weren’t for the hot spot I’d say the A3i fit would be better and excellent overall, but, because of that I’m going to say the more standard P3i design fits better. It’s certainly possible that some people won’t feel a hot spot with the A3i though. Earbud fit is always going to be somewhat hit or miss depending on your unique ear shape.

Does the Soundcore Life A3i or Life P3i Have Better Noise Attenuation?

The A3i has a little more natural isolation than the P3i does, I think mainly because the design and fit of the A3i lends to that better. Even if you do have ANC, it’s still good to have decent natural isolation – it helps the ANC when it’s on and it also allows for you to not necessarily have to have ANC on if you want to get better battery life.

The P3i, somewhat interestingly, seems to have better active noise cancellation than the A3i does, and I feel like it more or less makes up the difference for its lesser natural isolation.

All in all, though, both the A3i and P3i have great noise attenuation for the value tier price-point (around $50).

Does the Soundcore Life A3i or Life P3i Have Better Controls and Usability?

Soundcore is one of the few manufactures that still makes a variety of earbuds with pressable buttons rather than purely touch based controls, which is actually a strong selling point for a fair amount of people. Both the A3i and P3i have button based controls, and have decent buttons that are reliable and have good feel.

The default Soundcore control schematic is kind of silly – there’s no reset/backtrack function mapped to any of the commands while other functions are mapped to multiple commands, which just makes no sense and I have no idea why they do it that way. But, both the A3i and P3i are compatible with the Soundcore App which can, among other things, customize the controls to your liking and add in that missing function.

The major difference between the A3i and P3i here is that the A3i has the buttons positioned on the sides of the earbuds rather than the backs, and it’s a unique and clever design that allows you to kind of pinch the earbuds from both sides to push the buttons rather than having to push the backs, which can sometimes uncomfortably push the earbuds further into your ear and/or mess up the fit.

A note before the next section: this page describes how I evaluate the sound quality of headphones and earbuds.

Does the Soundcore Life A3i or Life P3i Sound Better?

The A3i sounds a little more balanced and a little better overall out of the box. The P3i in comparison has a little more recessed mids and highs and is a bit thinner and narrower as a result, and the accuracy is a little off.

Here’s the thing though: Soundcore’s tuning on some of their more recent products, including the A3i and P3i, is just not good – it’s way too bassy, with mid-highs that are far too tuned down to the point of there being enough detail loss that things sound muffled.

The good news, though, is that an EQ app can fix or greatly mitigate the issues that Soundcore’s tuning has, and both the A3i and P3i are indeed compatible with the Soundcore app.

Soundcore Life A3i custom EQ profilemy Soundcore Life 3Pi custom EQ profile

my custom A3i and P3i EQ profiles

I went back and forth between the two with little EQ adjustments here and there, and I’d say that with the Soundcore app the A3i and P3i have about the same sound quality potential. The A3i might be a little fuller with some boxyness and the P3i might be a little airier with some sibilance, but it’s hard to say if that’s just a subjective function of my tuning, the fit of my ear, or my perception ultimately.

Which Should You Choose Between the Soundcore Life A3i or Life P3i?

Both the A3i and P3i are great products – they offer comfortable and solid fit, reliable button based onboard controls, great noise attenuation, and decent fidelity potential for the non expensive price.

What do I mean by fidelity potential? I mean to say that the out of the box Soundcore tuning is not that good and that I strongly recommend using their EQ app, which both the A3i and P3i are compatible with, even if just to choose one of the pre-sets that sounds better. But ideally you’d make a custom profile. You can read how I did mine for both of them in my full review of each product, linked at the end.

The A3i has the neat side buttons which I’ve never seen on a pair of TWS earbuds, and I think that is actually a good enough reason to want to get them. The A3i also has the weird hot spot caused by the edged backs though, but some people might not experience that.

Other than that? I think it just comes down to personal preference. Both the A3i and P3i offer pretty much the same thing at the same price, either in the monitor style shape or the stemmed style shape.

Get the Life A3i on Amazon (affiliate link)

Get the Life P3i on Amazon (affiliate link)

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Full Life P3i review
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Our current picks for the overall best budget true wireless earbuds

Pete Anthony has had a lifelong affinity for music, and more recently has become an anti audiophile snob who wants great sound to be accessible and enjoyable by anyone. Without needing to break the bank. Read his full author page here.